Let's be honest. I search for Ryan in hundreds of different things in hundreds of different ways, every single day. And it's a perfectly logical thing to do. Since the day he died I wanted to keep him close. I chose an unmedicated labour so I could feel every bit of him. I slept in my hospital bed, with a firm grip on the side of his bassinet, afraid to let even that piece of him go. Even after we got home I remember falling asleep holding the side of his bassinet that stayed at our bedside for a week or two. Empty. But his.
We want our babies close to us, so we wear jewelry. Carry around trinkets. Decorate our homes with photos, prints, flowers. Anything to have a constant visual that they are here with us in some way.
I have many symbols and signs I've come to recognize as little bits of my boy popping in to say hello. I've written before about how the flicker of a light is the most playful Ryan can be with us. Most recently, I went to visit a friend and her baby boy. I wasn't there for 30 minutes before he kitchen light started to flicker. We both smiled thinking that maybe Ryan had joined us on what should have been our boys first play date.
But from the earliest of days, butterflies were my most treasured sign. I suppose it's actually kind of a "cliche sign." It's very common for people to make the association between a lost loved one and a butterfly. But as the sympathy cards rolled in, and so many of them contained images of butterflies big and small, I couldn't help but start to make that connection. At the bottom of the memory box given to us in the hospital is a very large image of a butterfly. And one week to the day after losing Ryan, I took a walk to the park by my house. I sat alone on a swing and watched a butterfly land in the grass not too far from where I was sitting. I decided then to go home and do a little research on butterflies and loss.
There were a lot of explanations of the parallels between death and butterflies. And as I read them I formed my own. About their brief lives. About their emergence from a cocoon into this beautiful being. About the joy a butterfly brings as it flutters by.
All things true of my baby boy.